John Baldessari: Pollock/Benton
By Jendayi Omowale
The famed artist, John Baldessari’s exhibition at the Marian Goodman Gallery called Pollock/Benton uses his artistry to transform the images of Jackson Pollock, who he describes as a definite marker in art history and has completely altered the trajectory of contemporary art, “before Pollock and after Pollock, or B.P. and A.P.,” and Pollock’s mentor Thomas Hart Benson. Benson’s regionalist domain and Pollock’s abstract expressionist movement are both radical, frenetic spheres of art history that share vibrancy, boldness and declarative statements on the canvas, and clash together with their fluid shapes, vivid imagery, and painting that supersedes the canvas itself. John Baldessari, in his artistic brilliance, redefines the work of each artist and marries the two through his own photographic eye and genius.
In his series Pollock/Benton, Baldessari intimately connects the space between what we define as textual and aesthetic information, each juxtaposed composition uses words like “Frequent”, “Normal”, “Balanced”, and “Ordinary,” which allows the viewer’s imagination to connect the intense world of the artwork to their everyday lives. John Baldessari playfulness with the viewer’s perception repeats itself through his varying placement of geometric white spaces in each piece; the viewers yearn for the context of this missing information, creating a masterful manipulation that continues to blur the line between photography, text and aesthetic form. Baldessari intentionally uses the removal of context as a device to engage viewers, allowing them to become inquisitive about the subject of his artwork. The energetic reinvention of these historical paintings through the cyclic erasure and creation of new information continues the vein of Baldessari mutating historical artwork with contemporary art forms in visually dynamic methods.
Pollock/Benton is another exhibition that continues John Baldessari exceptional translation of multimedia into a synthesis of compelling imagery; he continues to alter the landscape of contemporary art with his ambitious juxtaposition, composition and ingenuity. The result, bleeds through every line, form, and shape of the abstractions, and this current exhibition is a wonderful addition to his influential legacy in multimedia and conceptual art.
The Pollock/Benton exhibition commenced on November 11th and can be viewed at the Marian Goodman Gallery until December 23, 2016. View Musee Magazine’s featured interview with John Baldessari in our latest issue Chaos: http://museemagazine.com/magazine/musee-magazine-issue-no-16